There's been a lot of discussion on what approach Trent Baalke and the team needs to take both this offseason and in the future offseasons to come. One side to look at is that the 49ers have an open championship "window" with the roster as it is currently constructed. The thrust then would be to take advantage of this and play to "win now". That would entail spending what is necessary to bring in veteran talent that will help take you "over the top". Historically though, it has not proven to be a fiscally sound policy. We've seen the team do this in the past and it got them into salary cap hell, seriously limiting roster flexibility. I would even go as far to say that it led to the 8-year playoff absence at the turn of the millennium.
What we've seen though in the past three years is a more prudent approach of acquiring talent primarily via the draft, then targeting undervalued free agents, giving contracts extensions to the team's own personnel, and making the occasional trade. With this in mind, Baalke has hit on a long-term sustainable formula to keep the team competitive indefinitely. This is very similar to the New England Patriots model, which has made them a perennial championship contender (even the the Red Sox employ this same model, so we can learn a thing or two from Boston sports).
What this means ultimately is that the burden is on the team's talent evaluators to identify players who are both skilled and will fit in the 49ers scheme. Trent has shown some success in this (2012 draft notwithstanding), and I'm very hopeful that they will again do well this offseason.
Some big and physical WRs to look at. | Think big: A ranking of WRs who fit 49ers' physical style (Barrows)
Nothing to see here. Really. | Franchise/transition tags: 49ers (Williamson)
49ers: Free agency snapshot (Yahoo)
Some minor pay raises that could still affect the salary cap. | Four players earn pay raises (ESPN)
Having played for Harbaugh in the past, I wouldn't be opposed to taking Martin on at the veteran's minimum after he's released. Think competition and roster depth like Harbaalke always do. | Would Michael Sam or Jonathan Martin be a better fit for the 49ers? (Lynch)
The Non-Issue Issue
Kap pretty much says it all. We are making a bigger issue out of something that really shouldn't be an issue. If a guy can contribute, then let him play. | Kaepernick on Michael Sam: ‘No one cares if you're black, white, straight, gay' (Branch)
Hint: raising tortoises is NOT on the list. | Top 5 things Kaepernick does well (Cohn)
Ok it's not on the level of Bo Jackson, but VD is a gifted athlete who can do more than football. | Vernon Davis, in light-hearted discussion on curling: "Anything's possible" (PFT)